E-Cigarette Explosion Causes Severe Burn Injury

This case involves the unprompted explosion of an E-cigarette.

ByWendy Ketner, M.D.

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Updated onDecember 16, 2021

E-Cigarette Explosion Causes Severe Burn Injury

A man who was walking outside in August with his E-cigarette in his back pocket began to feel a burning sensation on his leg. Suddenly, the E-cigarette exploded causing a hole in the plaintiff’s leg and severe burns to the entire left side of his leg. It was alleged that a defect in the E-cigarette’s lithium ion batteries caused the explosion and subsequent injuries.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

Please discuss your knowledge of lithium ion batteries in E-cigarettes.

What might cause a battery to explode?

Expert Witness Response E-071724

inline imageI have investigated battery failures and alleged battery failures for 15+ years. My background includes failure analysis of batteries while working for a major computer manufacturer, the investigation of numerous battery fire scenes, and case review of personal injuries regarding alleged battery incidents. I also sit on a newly-launched technical committee which will be developing a new standard for E-cigarette devices. E-cigarette battery cases are one of the primary areas of my practice. To date, I have reviewed approximately 35-40 such cases with a variety of circumstances and a variety of E-cigarette makes and models. If the person has the battery in their pocket and it fails, it is most likely due to an external short rather than an internal short. The battery cell is most likely marketed as a high drain cell and thus would not have the safety mechanism generally used in other applications, and it likely did not have a shutdown separator.

About the author

Wendy Ketner, M.D.

Wendy Ketner, M.D.

Dr. Wendy Ketner is a distinguished medical professional with a comprehensive background in surgery and medical research. Currently serving as the Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs at the Expert Institute, she plays a pivotal role in overseeing the organization's most important client relationships. Dr. Ketner's extensive surgical training was completed at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, where she gained hands-on experience in various general surgery procedures, including hernia repairs, cholecystectomies, appendectomies, mastectomies for breast cancer, breast reconstruction, surgical oncology, vascular surgery, and colorectal surgery. She also provided care in the surgical intensive care unit.

Her research interests have focused on post-mastectomy reconstruction and the surgical treatment of gastric cancer, including co-authoring a textbook chapter on the subject. Additionally, she has contributed to research on the percutaneous delivery of stem cells following myocardial infarction.

Dr. Ketner's educational background includes a Bachelor's degree from Yale University in Latin American Studies and a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) from SUNY Downstate College of Medicine. Moreover, she is a member of the Board of Advisors for Opollo Technologies, a fintech healthcare AI company, contributing her medical expertise to enhance healthcare technology solutions. Her role at Expert Institute involves leveraging her medical knowledge to provide insights into legal cases, underscoring her unique blend of medical and legal acumen.

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